Paying respects to our Merchant Navy heroes

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, leads wreath-laying at the Merchant Navy Memorial, Mill Dam, to mark last year's Merchant Navy Day.
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, leads wreath-laying at the Merchant Navy Memorial, Mill Dam, to mark last year's Merchant Navy Day.

Preparations are being made for an annual ceremony which pays tribute to fallen Merchant Navy seafarers.

Merchant Navy Day is to be staged at the Mill Dam, South Shields, where a statue pays tribute to Merchant Navy personnel who sailed from the port in the Second World War, on Thursday, September 3, from 10.30am.

Among those on hand to lay a wreath will be Coun Richard Porthouse, the Mayor of South Tyneside.

The service will be led by the Rev Pat Bealing, of the Mission to Seafarers, and among those also attending will be active and retired seafarers, and members of the British Legion.

Members of the public are also invited to go along and pay their respects.

Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day has honoured the brave men and women who kept our island nation afloat during both World Wars, and has celebrated our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including half the food we eat.

This year, Seafarers UK is campaigning for the Red Ensign, the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag, to be flown on September 3 on public buildings and landmark flagstaffs.

More than 400 local authorities have been asked to get involved.

Additionally, a former mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, is to take guided tours of the Mission to Seafarers at the Mill Dam on Friday, September 11.

The tours, at noon and 2pm, are being staged as part of the national Heritage Open Days.